Backyard staycation ideas – 12 ways to holiday at home

These backyard staycation ideas will make traditional vacations away a thing of the past

Three backyard staycation ideas
(Image credit: Stephanie Coutas/Future/Mark Bolton/Doyle Terry courtesy of Douglas Elliman)

The key to successfully transforming your garden with backyard staycation ideas is to stop your backyard feeling like a garden. That all essential 'holiday feeling' is the result of being somewhere outside your usual environment, somewhere that is totally dedicated to helping you to relax. Therefore, when designing your backyard to create a staycation space, if you think about privacy and peacefulness and you can't go far wrong. 

Who said that you can only holiday a couple of times a year? With these backyard staycation ideas, every sunny day has the potential to feel like a holiday. Plus, they will also provide a great backdrop for your garden party ideas – nothing says 'vacation' like a fun space filled with family and friends. 

Backyard staycation ideas

Think of your favorite vacation. Maybe it was lounging by the side of the pool or perhaps it was spent enjoying great al fresco food? These memories will provide the starting point for your backyard staycation ideas and garden decorating ideas.

'Make a list of what you want from your backyard – whether you want somewhere to sunbathe, somewhere to dine, somewhere to swim – and then prioritize these. This will help to guide your design,' recommends Melanie Griffiths, editor of Period Living magazine. From here, follow the same steps as you would for your traditional garden design – you can even commission a garden designer to help you. 

1. Add a pool for instant vacation-vibes

pergola seating area next to a pool

(Image credit: Future/Mark Bolton)

For those who love to vacation every time that the sun is shining then a pool is a must for your backyard staycation. There are plenty of pool ideas to help inspire you to take a dip – from spacious expanses to smaller designs. Garden pools also have the added benefit of being totally private, no worries about other people's children jumping in while you're trying to relax.

Adding any source of water to your backyard ideas will elevate the space – even garden fountain ideas or water feature ideas will help to create a calming atmosphere. However, a swimming pool also provides a space to exercise, relax while floating on the water or have fun with the family. 

Add a pool to your garden and you'll probably have family and friends also trying to staycation in your backyard, too. And, as in the glorious space above, make room for comfortable outdoor living room ideas that you'll want to lounge on all day long.

2. Create a restaurant inspired al fresco dining space

Outdoor kitchen of Mediterranean garden

(Image credit: Little Greene)

One of the best parts of going on vacation is the food. Translate this experience into your backyard staycation ideas with outdoor kitchen ideas and, of course, stylish outdoor dining ideas. Channel restaurant design by creating a dedicated cooking area and pairing with an elegant dining table and chairs. Treat yourself to your favorite global cuisines or perhaps try something new to really embrace the backyard staycation ethos. Investing in the best grill or best pizza oven will inspire you too cook (let's call it self-catering), too.

'An outdoor kitchen gives you ample opportunity to cook and eat outdoors, whatever the season, and as outdoor kitchens now come in a multitude of sizes and forms, you have more reason to get outside and make the most of your outdoor space, whether you have a large garden or a smaller patio. Outdoor kitchens can also include dining and relaxing space, perfect for creating a comfortable, fully functional space where you can enjoy cooking, dining and socializing all year round,' says Declan Kingsley-Walsh, MD at Morsø.

3. Ensure privacy by dividing your backyard

Pool ideas within a boundary in Australia

(Image credit: Future / Armelle Habib)

Vacations are all about getting away and privacy is key. When planning your backyard staycation ideas think about how you can make your vacation space feel separate from your day-to-day life. 

There are lots of garden screening ideas to help with this – we love this living wall that creates a soft backdrop to this pool area while also making it feel secluded and private. But you can also create privacy and garden shade ideas with a pretty awning or even just a parasol.

4. Go all out and install a bar area

Outdoor kitchen island

(Image credit: Stephanie Coutas)

Garden bar ideas and outdoor grill station ideas are all the rage this summer, providing a space to socialize, cook and dine outdoors. However, this outdoor space, by French interior designer Stéphanie Coutas, takes an outdoor kitchen to the next level having created a fully functioning bar. 

With drinks on tap and a fridge for chilled cocktails and wine, as well as bar seating and an elegant pergola – you'll soon forget that you're even at home.  

5. Add a lights to extend your staycation after dark

illuminated patio area with wooden furniture and hedges

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Outdoor lighting ideas are essential in any garden, however, they really are a must when planning backyard staycation ideas. Able to transform your garden into a magical landscape, these backyard lighting ideas are perfect for adding to your patio ideas or your pool area ideas. Effortlessly taking your backyard from day to night, opt for solar lights that will automatically turn on as the sun sets.

6. Ensure you've got a comfortable space to lounge

The Novogratz x SJP Collection

(Image credit: The Novogratz x SJP Collection)

Is it really a vacation (or staycation) if you're not lying in the sunshine with a cocktail in hand? Sun loungers are an essential part of any backyard staycation ideas. 

'Choosing furniture for your outdoor space is all about creating the most relaxing environment for your family and friends to enjoy in all types of occasions from dining to lounging. There are many options to choose from with everything from sun loungers and corner sofas to casual dining tables so it’s important to think about the size of your space and how many people will be using it,' says Jonny Brierley, CEO at Moda Furnishings.

7. Expand your pool area with a pool house

Small seating are on a pool patio

(Image credit: Kate Anne Designs / Jeffrey Brian Riemer)

If you already have a pool, then think of ways to elevate the bathing experience. One way is to build a pool house. Fitted with a space to change and dry, as well as somewhere to store your towels, it will definitely help to give you that 'holiday at home' feel. 

There are plenty of pool house ideas to help inspire you as well as expert advice from designer Emma Sims Hilditch of interiors agency Sims Hilditch on designing a pool house  to help you achieve a professional resort-standard space.

8. Extend your time outdoors with a fire pit

fire pit on patio

(Image credit: Image Doyle Terry courtesy of Douglas Elliman)

We can't all guarantee tropical evenings at home, however cooler temperatures shouldn't cause you to cut your evening short. Adding a fire pit ideas or even outdoor fireplace ideas will extend your time outside, while also creating a romantic backdrop to the space.

'Sources of heat, such as firepits, heaters and tabletop fires allow you to enjoy your garden comfortably when the temperature outside is slightly less appealing. Plus, installing these impressive displays enhances the aesthetic of your garden, and also provides lighting for those evenings when you just don’t want to go back inside yet,' says Patrick Bridge, Chief Operations Officer at Harbour Lifestyle

9. Add a plunge pool to a small backyard

Plunge pool in garden with fireplace

(Image credit: Soake Pools/Murphy Foto Imagery)

Contrary to popular belief you don't have to have a huge plot to have a swimming pool, instead you can integrate an on-trend plunge pool into your small backyard ideas. Prioritizing depth over length, plunge pools like this design from Soake Pools provides the perfect spot to cool off on a hot summer's day as well as looking aesthetically beautiful. 

'Once added to your garden, a plunge pool becomes a destination, a gathering place, as well as an oasis for cooling off (or heating up) depending on the season. As such, they provide the backyard with a year-round holiday feel – providing an immersive escape right at home. Additionally, plunge pools are becoming staples at high-end spas and resorts around the world so you can create the zen of a spa retreat at home!' says Karen Larson, Co-Founder of Soake Pools.

Plunge pools are also a great choice if you are trying to embrace sustainable garden ideas, using 80 per cent less water than a typical swimming pool. As if this wasn't enough they also use less energy for heating and fewer chemicals to keep them clean and safe, making them not only more eco-friendly but also cheaper to maintain than a conventional pool. 

10. Integrate zoning to help keep your space relaxing

Pool ideas with entertainment area and lounge

(Image credit: Sycamore)

Of course, your backyard is going to be a lot smaller than your standard vacation resort, so garden zoning is key. Designing your backyard with dedicated spaces will help to keep it feeling organized, which in turn will help you to relax.  Christopher Grubb, an interior designer and founder of Beverly Hills-based Arch-Interiors Design Group used different flooring materials in this space to realize his backyard staycation ideas. You can also play with height and levels to help to further define the different zones of your garden.

11. Take design inspiration from vacation locations

Gravel garden with olive tree

(Image credit: Christopher Lee)

Mediterranean garden ideas are sure to give your backyard staycation vibes – it's also easier than you might think. Opt for a gravel patio area, paired with Mediterranean plants such as olive trees, agave and bougainvillea. Add a teak table and chairs for al fresco dining – a staple of the Mediterranean lifestyle.

If you're feeling inspired, learn how to create a Mediterranean garden to transform your yard into a Spanish backyard staycation spot. 

12. Have a backyard picnic

garden with hammock picnic rug and soft furnishings

(Image credit: Walton & Co)

Picnics are a great way to channel the vacation-vibes, however, hosting one in your backyard means you have the convenience and privacy of your own space too. Incorporate pretty ideas to make your backyard feel new and invigorating, creating the perfect space to relax.

Another upside of backyard staycation ideas is that you don't have to factor in practicality – several outdoor rugs and picnic blankets are a must for an outdoor picnic and layer with even more cushions to create the perfect space to lounge. If you have two trees or posts, then consider a hammock for a peaceful spot in which to rest after lunch. 

Good food is also an essential part of a picnic, these summer lunch recipes will definitely delight and ensure that your backyard picnic is a hit. 

How do I relax on a staycation?

The best way to ensure you relax on a staycation is to separate yourself from day to day life. Embracing backyard staycation ideas will definitely help you to achieve this, giving you a peaceful space to sunbathe, read, dine and relax. 

What is considered a staycation?

A staycation is where you create a holiday experience in your own locale. This could be simply creating a vacation environment in your backyard, or going on day-trips and tourist activities in the area in which you live. 

Holly Reaney
Holly Reaney

Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature four years ago, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.